Nets Notes: Harden’s brilliant performance hands Nets 6th straight victory
photo credit: Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images
Nets 2, Kenny 0. For the second time in less than three weeks, the Brooklyn Nets took on one of the best teams in basketball, the Los Angeles Clippers.
Looking to culminate a fantastic road trip with another team win against a great opponent, the Nets did exactly that. Once again, without superstar Kevin Durant, Brooklyn was met with a challenge that they once again navigated through it smoothly. The Nets are now, officially, on fire.
Back at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, for the second time in a matter of three days, the Nets outplayed the Clippers from the start. Despite being outscored 30-28 in the first quarter, Steve Nash’s crew saw where they were making errors and tightened it up defensively as they advanced. James Harden and Kyrie Irving combined for 25 of 28 first quarter Brooklyn points.
From the second quarter on, this game was all Brooklyn. Outscoring LA 30-21 in the second half, the Nets went to their locker room at halftime with a 7-point lead. In the third quarter, the Nets once again outscored the Clippers 31-28. Now with a 10-point lead, Nash knew his guys couldn’t take their foot off of the gas.
Continuing to play shut down defense, the Nets held onto the game. Although they got outscored in the fourth and final quarter, they were able to get the job done. The Clippers showed some signs of coming back, but Brooklyn was able to continue adding points and contain the Clippers’ high octane offense. Brooklyn did not play poor defense by any means; a juggernaut just hit them in the final stretch.
With 2:50 to go in the third with the Nets up 6-points, Jeff Green was illegally screened and very shaken up for minutes. We can only hope that “Uncle Jeff” will be alright. The Clippers challenged the play. Patrick Beverley was initially called for the foul, the call stood, and the Nets gladly took the basketball back. Kyrie Irving drove to the basket on this possession and had a very athletic play to give the Nets another 2-points. The Clippers scored on their next possession, and the game kept going back and forth.
Eventually, the Clippers cut the Nets’ lead to 4 points. On Brooklyn’s next possession, James Harden was fouled. He missed both free throws and two others on the night, totaling four missed free throws. The Clippers attempted a three-pointer, but DeAndre Jordan grabbed the rebound and was fouled. He knocked down one of two free throws, giving the Nets a 5-point lead. The Clippers later knocked down a three-pointer. It was a 2-point game now. LA stopped the Nets, and then Kawhi Leonard was fouled by DeAndre Jordan. He hit both free throws, tying the game. The Nets had blown a 15-point third-quarter lead.
Brooklyn got the ball back with 28.6 to go. Kyrie Irving attempted a three-pointer, missed, and with 11 seconds left, DeAndre Jordan’s dogged rim effort led to a beautiful rebound which gave the Nets their lead back.
With 8.1 seconds remaining, Leonard was called for an offensive foul against Harden. The Clippers wanted to challenge but lost their challenge on Beverley’s foul. Harden went back to the line, this time knocking down both free throws, making it a 4-point game. The Nets won the game 112-108.
Now riding a six-game win streak, Brooklyn cannot stop here. They must keep this going.
It was much too close for comfort at times for fans on both sides, but this ultimately was a solid Nets performance and a game they deserved to win. Jordan played his best game of the year and clinched this game for the Nets with his rebound in the final seconds. He had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 assists. Harden had 37 points, 11 rebounds, and 7 assists. He played 41 minutes. Irving played 40 minutes and had 28 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. Bruce Brown had 13 points, 8 rebounds, and 2 assists. Joe Harris had 13 points and 2 rebounds, and assists.
With the Philadelphia 76ers (20-11) losing to the Toronto Raptors (16-15) today, the Nets (20-12) now move to a half-game back of first place in the Eastern Conference.
The Nets travel back to Brooklyn to take on the Sacramento Kings once again, with tip-off set for 7:30 PM Eastern Time. They look to grow their winning streak to seven games. These boys are on a roll!